These cookies were born of a humble beginning but they are anything but. They are versatile, flavourful, easy to make and pack a warm and wonderful taste in every bite.
Emma was introduced to these cookies by her grandmother (aka Nagymama) who brought an enormous bundle of freshly baked ones over on her most recent visit. Turns out that when she was a young girl, my grandmother used to make them for her and her kids l-o-v-e-d them. And it’s no wonder!
The flavour and texture of these honey cookies remind me of an old Hungarian tradition of giving decorated heart-shaped cookies as a token of affection. I remember receiving those cookies myself growing up. They were fancifully decorated – glazed with red sugar and iced with brightly-coloured flowers. This version forgoes the fancy iced decorations and embellishes the cookies with either large sugar crystals (my favourite), jam (Emma and G’s favourite) or ice cream (another Emma favourite).
This recipe uses whole wheat flour and brown sugar to bring the flavour a little closer to that of those traditional heart cookies. The dough comes together quickly and can be refrigerated for a few days if you can’t get them baked right away. They taste delicious fresh out of the oven and if you can manage to wait until they’re fully cooled or even until the next day, you’ll appreciate the depth of flavour that develops from the whole wheat flour.
Don’t be intimidated by the long set of directions below — you’ll find there are 3 ways to cut and finish the cookies depending on whether you are making the jam sandwiches, rounds or ice cream sandwiches.
Whole Wheat Honey Cookies (Mézes Pogácsa)
inspired by: Nagymama (both Emma’s and mine)
(makes 90 jam sandwiches, 40 2″x3″ ice cream sandwiches or 90 1 3/4″ rounds)
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour + flour for rolling/cutting
- 3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup honey
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 whole large egg + 2 egg yolks, beaten
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3/4 cup turbinado sugar (large crystals) (optional)
- 1 cup of your favourite jam (ours were Mirabelle Plum or Raspberry), and,
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar (optional); or,
- 1 L vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Heat the oven to 375F.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flours, baking soda, lemon zest and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, warm the butter in the microwave for 15-20 seconds on high. It shouldn’t be entirely melted but very soft. Add the honey, eggs and lemon juice and mix well.
Add the honey mixture into the dry ingredients and combine until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and starts to form into a smooth ball. Sprinkle a little additional flour on to the dough if it’s feeling a bit sticky.
Divide the dough into three balls and set them aside. On a lightly floured surface, take one of the balls and flatten it slightly with your hands. Then, using a rolling pin, roll it out to your desired thickness (1/4″ for sugared rounds, 1/8″ for ice cream or jam sandwiches).
For the sugared rounds:
Dip a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter into some flour and begin cutting out the cookies. After every 2 or 3, remember to re-flour your cutter. Take each cookie and roll the edges through a small bowl of the large crystal sugar. Place the cookies on to the prepared baking sheet about a finger’s width apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, swapping the baking sheets about 5-7 minutes of baking. While each batch is baking, repeat the rolling, cutting and baking with one of the remaining balls of dough. Check the ones in the oven at 10 minutes and bake them only until the bottom edges are just starting to turn golden. Let stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool.
For the jam sandwiches:
Dip a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter into some flour and begin cutting out the cookies. After every 2 or 3, remember to re-flour your cutter. Take half of the rounds and place them spaced a finger’s width apart evenly on a prepared baking sheet. For the remaining half, cut out a small hole from the centre of each (I use the end of a decorating tip for ours). Place these rounds spaced evenly on to the other baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, swapping the baking sheets at 4-5 minutes.
While each batch is baking, repeat the rolling, cutting and baking with another one of the remaining balls of dough. Check the ones in the oven at 10 minutes and bake them only until the bottom edges are just starting to turn golden. Let stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool.
Once the jam sandwich cookies are cool, place the jam into a small bowl and mix it with a fork until it forms only small clumps and mixes easily. Place a teaspoonful of jam on the bottom face of a cookie without the hole in the centre and then place a cookie with the hole in it on top of the jam. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Sift the powdered sugar over top of the completed sandwiches if desired and serve. Refrigerate the uneaten sandwiches in an airtight container for up to 2 or 3 days.
For the ice cream sandwiches:
Using a large knife, cut the rolled out dough into 2″x3″ rectangles. Place the cookies on to the prepared baking sheet about a finger’s width apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, swapping the baking sheets about 5-7 minutes of baking. While each batch is baking, repeat the rolling, cutting and baking with another of the remaining balls of dough. Check the ones in the oven at 10 minutes and bake them only until the bottom edges are just starting to turn golden. Let stand on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool.
Once the cookies are cooled, take a small scoop of ice cream and place it on the bottom face of one of the cookies. Place another cookie over top and press down slightly. Repeat with the remaining cookies and serve immediately. For the ones that won’t be eaten immediately, place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and then place the baking sheet into the freezer until the ice cream firms up. Transfer them into an airtight container with a piece of waxed or parchment paper between each so they don’t stick together.
Store the plain cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, or in the refrigerator or freezer for up to a month.
Tips and Suggestions:
- Although I use a stand mixer for mixing the cookie dough together, it can also be done by hand but takes a few minutes longer (and a bit more of your strength!).
- If you refrigerate the dough before using it, let it warm to the point where it’s easy to flatten by hand. It’ll make it easier for rolling and cutting.
- This recipe produces a lot of cookies – be forewarned they will not last long!
I created this post for the Monthly Mingle at What’s For Lunch, Honey? hosted this month by Cook Republic.
Update November 2012: These cookies also won first prize in EatInEatOut magazine’s Holiday Cookie contest.
Gorgeous cookies! cinnamon .. honey … lemon lovely flavours! Thanks for sending this to Monthly Mingle 🙂
Thanks, Sneh! So eager to see what everyone brings to this month’s Oh Honey! Monthly Mingle.
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what a lovely tradition! Your photos make me want to be able to reach into my screen and take one 🙂
After I finished writing about the cookie giving tradition, it made me want to start it with my girls. I think I will.
Thank you! If only we could reach into our screens and grab a few treats!
Honey cookies are good for honey too for father’s day!! Isn’t that good idea? we will try…..yam yam yammmm…..
What a great idea – Although if they go as quickly as they did at our house, they may not last until Father’s Day for your Honey!